Think Sleep Now
Think Sleep Now
Miles Price & Zanolife • Oct 18, 2021
This month we speak to Functional Medicine Practitioner, Miles Price of Life Clinic, to learn about different sleep concerns; why bad sleep is an issue and what can be done to address it.
Sleep: Why it's critical to your overall health and why it goes awry?
What is sleep and why it's important for health?
Sleep is a natural part of your health and wellbeing and is intrinsically and intimately linked to our core biological function as it is for nearly all animals in the animal kingdom. During our sleep we go through a process of rejuvenation and repair of all our tissues. Most importantly detoxification takes places in our liver and our brains to rid the body of toxins. The spinal fluid flushes away toxic proteins from our brains, reducing our risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Our hormones are tightly aligned to our sleep patterns like our insulin (blood glucose) and cortisol (stress).
What causes poor sleep and insomnia?
Lifestyle factors are the major influences on sleep. Typically eating too late, having too much alcohol, too much coffee and having coffee late in the day are typical negative habits which contribute to poor sleep. Then there’s the sleep environment in the bedroom, too much exposure to bright light, the room is too warm, too much brain stimulation to be able to relax. Finally, it’s the circadian rhythm disruption of not enough daylight (sunrise specifically) exposure which regulates the production of melatonin. Some people can be deficient in certain minerals and amino acids which contribute to a low level of neurotransmitters in the brain to help sleep.
What are the consequences of having poor sleep for a long time?
Having the odd night of poor sleep is not going to do any harm, but when its continuous and relenting, then there’s the cumulative effect of poor sleep on health. Firstly, metabolic disease risk increases like diabetes, and cardio-vascular disease, which subsequently increases the risk to become obese. Then your immune system is weakened with a greater risk of picking up infections, also cancer risk increases. The brain is directly influenced by poor sleep, with poorer thinking, memory, and long-term increased risk of dementia. So the consequences are wide ranging.
What assessments can you do for sleep?
The standard assessment for sleep is to do an at-home or in-hospital setting sleep study whereby you’re attached to many wires to determine your sleep status. This method of sleep assessment is not only stressful, but costly and time consuming. A more simple method of sleep assessment is using some innovative technology like with the Belun Ring. This device not only measures the duration and waking cycles of your sleep, it also measures your oxygen saturation, your stress levels whilst you sleep. Your oxygen saturation status is important to determine if you have sleep apnea, which is very common, whereby your brain doesn’t receive the oxygen it needs due to poor breathing behaviour. Up to 80% of patients with sleep apnea don’t know they have it, and it contributes to heart disease and strokes. This simple looking device is just worn on your fingers for a couple of nights and you don’t even notice you’re wearing it.
What can be done to fix sleep?
The best way to fix your sleep is firstly correct all the poor lifestyle factors first, with the diet, the coffee, alcohol intake, the poor sleeping environment. Then improve the circadian rhythm entrainment by exposing yourself with appropriate daylight exposure on a continuous basis, this helps the brain to recognize daytime and night time in a more natural manner. In some people more specialist support is needed with supplements to correct the stressful hormonal responses, and adjust the neuro-transmitters specifically which regulate the sleep. These include magnesium, potassium, calcium lactate, vitamin D3, tryptophan for example. The key point is, the body wants and desires rest and good sleep, and will achieve it if you remove all the blocking factors first.
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